Dyslexia affects 1 in 10 children; it is a genetic, neurological condition which affects how someone processes written and spoken information. It varies for each person, affecting them in different ways and to different degrees in the areas of processing information, following instructions, speed of tasks, working memory, organisational skills and sequencing.
Based on information taken from the Nessy website, we have listed a summary of the top 10 dyslexic signs to look out for amongst children in the classroom and have listed 10 top tips on how you can adapt teaching to support them.
10 Dyslexia signs in the classroom:
- Phonological issues such as confusing vowel sounds, e.g. writing ‘i’ for ‘e’, difficulty rhyming, chunking words into syllables and blending sounds into a whole word. Spelling words as they sound; typical mistakes include ‘wont’ instead of ‘want’, mixing up the sequence of letters e.g. ‘help’ instead of help reversing the sequence of letters e.g. ‘was’ instead of ‘saw’, missing out a letter e.g. ‘wich’ instead of ‘which’, using the wrong letter e.g. ‘showt’ instead of ‘shout’, adding an extra letter e.g. ‘whent’ instead of ‘went’, using a ‘t’ instead of ‘ed’ e.g. ‘lookt’ instead of ‘looked’, unable to remember when to use ‘ck’ or ‘ke’ at the end e.g. ‘lick’ instead of ‘like’.
- Unable to remember times tables and number sequences, so a multiplication fact may seem to be learned and then a few days later has been forgotten again. Difficulty remembering a sequence of numbers is a sure sign of dyslexia e.g. phone numbers.
- Someone with dyslexia is likely to have lots of ideas but have difficulty putting them into writing and do not know where to start; often writes long sentences with no punctuation, resulting in taking much longer than others to produce less work.
- Slower reading speed and immediately forgetting what has just been read.
- Missing out words or skipping lines as they read. Much mental energy is used on the process so that no memory capacity is left to comprehend. They may read a word and then further down the page not recognise it again, they can jump over words, missing them out, skip out whole lines or sometimes they just skip part of a word.
- Difficulty with homophones: e.g. ‘there’ and ‘their.’ Since people with dyslexia rely upon the strategy of learning to spell a word by building it phonetically, they have no technique to distinguish a word when it is a homophone.
- Difficulty sequencing things like the alphabet.
- Mixing up left and right; many with dyslexia cannot learn to automatically remember left and right and have to stop and think about it.
- Can’t remember what you’ve been told when given a sequence of directions.E.g. “Get out your book. Turn to page 23. Read three pages.” Someone with dyslexia might only remember one of these things and have to ask again. Having to ask again can make them feel stupid.
- Reversing numbers; someone with dyslexia might see 57 but remember it as 75.Or write the answer to 6√ó7 as 24 instead of 42. The output of the information becomes muddled.
10 Teaching Tips for Dyslexia
- Praise. Confidence helps, criticism hinders. Someone with dyslexia may have been criticised or felt ashamed about their difficulties, which may have been undetected for some time.
- Don’t ask a person with dyslexia to read aloud, as words are likely to be misread or skipped, causing embarrassment.
- Don’t give a punishment for forgetting books or sports kit, instead offer positive strategies such as having one place to put things away.
- Don’t use the word ‘lazy’, people with dyslexia have to work harder to produce a smaller amount. They will have difficulty staying focused when reading, writing or listening.
- Expect less written work, a person with dyslexia may be verbally bright but struggle to put ideas into writing. Allow more time for reading, listening and understanding.
- Prepare a printout of homework and stick it in their book, provide numbered steps, e.g. 1. Do this. 2. Do that etc.
- Do not ask them to copy text from a board or book, give a printout instead. Suggest they highlight key areas and draw thumbnail pictures in the margin to represent the most important points.
- Accept homework created on a computer, physical handwriting is torture for most people with dyslexia. Word processors make life much easier, allow them to use the Spell Checker and help with grammar and punctuation so that you can see the quality of the content.
- Discuss an activity to make sure it is understood, visualising the activity or linking it to a funny action may help someone with dyslexia remember.
- Offer the opportunity to answer questions orally, as often people with dyslexia can demonstrate their understanding with a spoken answer but are unable to put those ideas in writing.